White Papers ─── September 09, 2022
The Life of an Architectural Technologist
Author: Tracey Evans
For architectural technologists, there are many diverse tasks that are involved in our daily work lives. Being an architectural technologist myself, there have been many times when I have been asked what exactly it is that I do, and many people have never even heard of this job. As stated on the NAIT School of Applied Sciences and Technology Architectural Technology program page, “Architectural technologists are key members of architectural teams who translate design concepts into graphic images, then into technical drawings and specifications that ultimately result in the creation of the built environment.” This is a very good description of the role of a technologist; however, there is still so much more that we do for our project teams and our clients. At a quick glance, a technologist translates the design concepts developed by our architects and architectural designers into technical construction drawings which include floor plans, ceiling plans, elevations, sections, details, and schedules explaining all of the components of the proposed building in order for it to be constructed. Although this may be one of the biggest components of a technologist’s career, there is so much more that we are able to offer to our project teams and clients on a daily basis.
First, there needs to be an understanding of the different roles that a technologist may have on a project team, starting with the Junior and Intermediate Technologists. These team members are our new-to-the-industry or recently graduated techs, as well as those who have been in the industry long enough to have developed the skills to produce work with little supervision and direction. These technologists are responsible for developing the Construction Drawings and details, starting from Schematic Design and Design Development to providing any necessary assistance through Construction Administration. To the best of their abilities, they are responsible for reviewing their own work for errors and omissions, creating and maintaining the project cartoon sets, and printing and binding the drawings and specifications before construction. Although the junior and intermediate technologists generally have limited communication with clients, they may still be involved with project meetings as requested by their Project Managers. Most importantly, junior and intermediate technologists must be willing to learn in order to advance throughout their careers.
Generally, an Intermediate Technologist will also be given the role of “Revit Captain” within our office. We believe that it is important for every project to have a Revit Captain who is in charge of starting and maintaining the project files, as well as guiding the Junior Technologists in the proper drafting techniques and Revit workflows. It is vital that the Revit Captain maintains the health of a Revit file to ensure the file’s stability and operation speed throughout the project schedule. It is also up to the Revit Captain to ensure that the architectural files are shared with the project consultants, as well as their models and files are loaded and reloaded into our architectural files throughout our coordination periods.
Next, we have our Senior Technologists who are often given the Project Manager role, leaving them with many administrative and technical responsibilities. These team members have extensive knowledge of the building codes, municipal regulations, building envelope, construction phases, and Construction Drawings, and they are able to delegate work effectively and mentor the other team members. These technologists are responsible for managing and coordinating multiple projects, managing client budgets, schedules, programs, and communications, reviewing and creating markup documents for drawing errors and omissions, facilitating project meetings, performing site and field reviews, managing and being accountable for the project team, setting up project schedules and deadlines, and much more. The Project Manager acts as the primary contact with the client and helps to communicate the client’s vision and interests in order to make their dreams and ideas a reality. Project Managers are typically the first team members to start working on a project during the proposal stage and then the initial startup meeting with the client. From there, they are able to delegate tasks to the appropriate team members in order to complete the project to the highest standard possible.
Professional development is continually offered to everyone throughout the construction industry. By completing some additional courses through a certified authority, such as those offered by the Construction Specifications Canada (CSC) authority, a technologist has the opportunity to receive accreditations for a variety of additional industry roles. For example, the CSC offers courses that provide an individual with certification/designation as a Registered Specification Writer (RSW), Certified Specification Practitioner (CSP), Certified Construction Contract Administrator (CCCA), or Certified Technical Representative (CTR).
If technologists become Specification Writers, they are responsible for preparing the Project Manual. The Project Manual is the document that contains all of the specifications for every product and finish that is intended to be used on the project. The spec writer is responsible for researching new products and the manufacturer’s product data and installation guidelines. They closely coordinate with the Construction Drawings to ensure that all products and finishes that have been identified on the drawings are specified in the spec, as well as no duplicated information contradicts information between the drawings and the spec. It is up to the Specification Writer to ensure that all of the in-house templates are up-to-date and new master templates are developed as required for new products and finishes.
Technologists can also choose to become Construction Administrators. As Construction Administrators, they are responsible for managing projects through their construction period until the 1-year warranty period is complete. It is up to the Construction Administrator to provide the client with advice throughout the construction of their project. They provide assistance throughout the project tendering phase and will answer contractor questions through addendums, they will review shop drawings, review and approve payment claims, change orders, and proposed change notices, review construction progress, issue field reviews, answer RFIs, attend construction meetings, and more.
From the initial proposal through the 1-year warranty stages of a project, architectural technologists hold many responsibilities depending on the experience and role that they bring to the project team. We work collaboratively with our architects, architectural designers, and interior designer to develop a well-rounded and thought-through design for our clients. We actively work to bring more work into the office through our networking skills and client connections and strive to provide the highest standard of design and respect for our clients and consultants.
Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. (n.d.). NAIT Programs Architectural Technology. NAIT. Retrieved August 18, 2022, from https://www.nait.ca/programs/a... fall